IMAGINE YOU ARRIVE at the end of your day thinned out to the shadow of a ghost. Imagine you cannot remember the last time you drew a deep breath, felt wind on your face, bit into a slice of orange and knew that Spring flooded your mouth. Imagine that you understood that you didn’t know when your death would arrive. Imagine that caused you no alarm.
What would be your deepest hunger?
Here is a spell:
Imagine you had four months to live. From New Moon to New Moon, four times only. Imagine that you were shocked into what might pass for sanity. And, you heard these words circling through your mind: I want to watch twenty-eight forms of sunlight and earth’s shadow on the moon from here. Four times gone round. From here.
You realized you did not know where “here” was, except that it could not be within the confines of walls made by human hands—unless there was a window without glass or the roof had fallen in or you slept in your truck.
The first night you went to the window and punched out the glass. As the air shattered, you knew that you had no idea how the form of light on the New Moon might appear. You stepped through the window and stood on what had once been familiar ground. You looked up. The sky seemed to hold only stars. Then a shadow flooded your eyes.
The next night you went out to the no longer familiar ground. The shadow on the moon was almost whole. A paring of silver cupped what you didn’t know. You waited. This is the first place from which you will watch me. You wondered why the moon had never whispered in your mind before. It doesn’t matter.
Twenty-six nights and days you stood on the mysterious ground just outside your window. You watched. Sometimes there were clouds. The only forms of light and shadow were the delicate whispers in your mind. Other times the moon was a fat pomegranate or a scimitar or a pewter bowl.
On the twenty-eighth night on the familiar ground, you waited. Next you will go here. The voice told you a place that you had forgotten.
Imagine that on the next night when you brought yourself to the forgotten place, you drew a deep breath. You felt the blood and bone under your skin beginning to take shape. Star-wind ruffled your hair. You took the orange out of your pocket and peeled it. You bit into the exact color of the March dawn toward which you and the ground under your feet were heading. Above, the moon sliced the nightsky.
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Mary Sojourner, NPR commentator, is the author of the novel Sisters of the Dream; short story collection Delicate; essay collection, Bonelight: ruin and grace in the New Southwest; memoir/rant/mediation, Solace: rituals of loss and desire; and the forthcoming novel, Going Through Ghosts, U. of Nevada Press, Spring 2010. Writing is her demanding ally---and her lifeblood.